Review by Michael Jacobson
Stars: Emma Bell, Shawn
Ashmore, Kevin Zegers
Director: Adam Green
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Anchor Bay
Features: See Review
Length: 93 Minutes
Release Date: September 28, 2010
"No one knows we're up here!!"
Frozen is easily the most disturbing and unsettling horror movie I've seen this year, and considering this is the year that gave us The Human Centipede, that's saying a lot.
This movie comes under the rare banner of a film I give a high rating to and considerable praise for, but will probably never seek out to watch again. I love horror, but it's very uncommon for a scare movie to actually 'get' to me. It's even more scarce to find one that does so much that I find it almost unbearable.
It could be considered the Open Water
of the ski lift. Whereas the first film had
two divers left stranded in the middle of the ocean, this one has three friends
trapped in a chair high over a mountain in the dead of winter. Both are good
illustrations at how sometimes the simplest concepts are the most effective.
Call it the Occam's Razor of fright flicks.
Parker (Bell) has joined her boyfriend Dan (Zegers) and his best friend Joe (Ashmore) for a weekend ski break from school. Persuading the ski lift operator for one last run, they mount the lift to go back to the top of the mountain. But a series of errors and miscommunications means the ski lift is shut down with the three friends alone in the sky. It's also the last day of the weekend, meaning the mountain will be closed for the next five days.
It doesn't take long for momentary bemusement to turn to confusion and then to evolve into outright panic as the gravity (no pun intended) of their situation dawns on them. They are completely alone, high above the slopes, and the temperature continues to drop. How long they can possibly last in that situation is unknown, but it's for certain surviving five days is not an option.
But options are indeed a problem. The only ones seem to be trying to jump, or possibly climbing hand over hand on the sharp cable to the next lowest chair in hopes of finding a better way down. I don't want to give too much away, because this whole scenario is an exercise in pure suspense. I will say however that both methods are tried, and neither one leads to the hoped for results.
In fact, at least one of them had me close to screaming in my own seat in a sequence I probably will never be able to un-see. Writer director Adam Green definitely has a knack for creating true horror out of the most basic of concepts and ideas; especially mixing a jump from a high place with a terrible ground impact and throwing in the natural predators one might find on a snowy mountain. Oh. My. GOD.
Don't ask me if there's ever been a real life situation where skiers were abandoned and stranded on a ski lift. I'm sure it's easily researched, but I don't want to know. Jaws never kept me out of the water. Frozen has definitely put skiing off my bucket list. At least not until I grow the stamina to climb up to the top of a mountain my own damn self.
If there are faults, it might be that there are stretches where the premise wears a little thin. I mean, even in a scary scenario like this, there are long stretches where you think, there are three people on a non-moving lift and not a lot is happening. But Green definitely knows when it's time to raise the ante, and there were moments where I might have actually opted for boredom over the terror at hand.
So yes, it delivers everything it promises and more, and yes, I gladly give it the kudos it deserves for doing so. But considering this movie actually made me go get my heavy winter robe and put it on in the middle of the dog days of summer, I'm not sure it's an experience I'm ever going to want to replicate.
I'm kind of a fan of the way wintry movies look in high definition. Even though snow lends a little monochromism to the visuals, it always photographs well. This is a nice looking Blu-ray that takes some advantage of the weather for impact, but considering the story limits the settings, there isn't a lot the cameras can capture. Don't get me wrong, the camerawork in this film is first rate, and does as much or more than you would think given the limitations, but at the end of the day, there still are only so many ways to shoot three unmoving people. Nevertheless, all things considered, a quality effort.
Sound is crucial in horror...I don't know how many times I've written that phrase in ten years of publishing this site, but some truths bear repeating. And even though this film is necessarily driven by dialogue, there are moments that really come to life and bring the terror home...some of which I don't want to describe to avoid spoilers. Let's just say, good balance all around, and select and strategic placements of signals to the surrounds and bass channel for maximum effect.
The extras include a commentary with the directors and three stars and a second with the director and his cinematographer and editor. There are three featurettes on the making of the film, some deleted scenes with option commentary, a trailer, and a very easy-to-find Easter egg.
Is it cold in here, or is it just me? Frozen is about as stark and realistic a depiction of a pure nightmare scenario as ever I've seen...and perhaps the best praise I can give it is actually that I don't think I'll ever want to experience it again.